Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 28

There’s been a lot of change at our riding school recently. Our “shouty” riding instructor has left and the replacement is proving to be …an improvement.

Our new instructor is a middle aged lady who knows a lot, has a good sense of humour and very importantly, has a good teaching style with children. The Offspring has come on leaps and bounds, since the shouting stopped and the coaching started.

Having said that, there is one thing that never changes.

Last week our new lady was ill and the replacement (another good egg) had to teach a combined group of me, the Offspring and her two, usual clients. Bearing in mind the age and skill mix of this group she decided to do a flatwork lesson.

Now the Offspring hates anything that smacks of control, in spite of being repeatedly sold the benefits of being able to leg yield, for example (in all areas of riding) by yours truly. Her face, at being asked to do 10m circles, was a picture.

Personally, I found this lesson really interesting because the instructor also has some big physical challenges to overcome (due to injuries), but she translated her experiences into useful ways for me to cope with doing things when Dystonia has me in its grip. And they worked!

Obviously, it’s better not to be hurt and I want her to get better quickly, but the insight was useful.

Time to get the competition calendar out and see if I can make any headway on last year’s dismal performance.

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Back To School

Dystoniagirl If anyone ever tells you that it’s easy to get your child into a good school, look at the calendar, check that it’s not April 1st and that you don’t have a sign saying “Kick Me” on your back, then move away. ¬†Quickly.

Getting in to a good school is not easy, even if you have a brain the size of a planet. Schools look for clever, well adjusted, “interesting” individuals. So, you have to work at playing the ukelele whilst abseiling down Everest and reading Euripedes in the original Greek. And you have to be able to interview like Paxman too.

The poor Offspring and I have spent the last four months in school entry hell. Most nights have found us either practising interview questions, exam questions or exams period.

Fortunately, all of this effort has come good and the child has got a place at her (and our) chosen school.

All of this has left me with more knowledge of triangles than I could possibly want and a desire never to hear about adverbs again. Interestingly though, it made me want to do Classics. ¬†Perhaps, this was something to do with the geometry/logic overload, but it sent me off to find a copy of Peter Jones’s An Intelligent Person’s Guide To Classics.

I’ve just got going on this, but it’s proving to be an excellent spin through the ancient world, putting previous readings of classical works into context. I’ve just learnt that Troy was not in Greece, which helps explain a few things about the Trojan War!

So, here’s to the Greeks, Cassius Dio and the wonderful world of geometery.

Back to school for me.

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Treasure Island

imageThis week, with the TV schedules groaning with yuletide quiz shows, repeats and the like, a little gem appeared unexpectedly.

I’m not much of a fan of books ‘adapted for TV’ due to the fact that: (a) they are generally classic books that I know and love, and (b) they get wrecked.

So when Treasure Island came up the satellite planner, a decision had to be made. Watch or pass?

The Offspring and I had just started reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s great classic, so I thought, let’s give it a go.

What a surprise.

Yes, some bits of the story had been mucked about with (poor Dr. Livesey) but on the whole, really good.

Suitably bloodthirsty, suitably swashbuckling.

Best bits? Knowing that Flint’s old shipmates are hidden in the crew of the Hispaniola, the ship, the atmosphere, the locations, the ‘X’. Oh, and having lovely (!) discussions with the Offspring about how the Royal Navy used to maintain discipline on board it’s ships.

Spot of keel-hauling before dinner, anyone?

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Goodbye to the Old and Hello to the New

In common with lots of folk, at this juncture in the year, I’m sitting in front of the laptop weighing up to good, the bad and the down-right ugly that 2014 has brought.

On the upside, our tiny Family Unit is still “functioning”. The Offspring is still as mad, wild and fun as ever. My partner in crime is still … long suffering … and wonderful. And horses continue to be a big part of our lives.

All of this goes to counter the gloomier events of this past twelve months where ill health has tried it’s best to scupper plans and hopes.

So, it’s time to wave goodbye to last year’s disappointments and start again tomorrow with a clean slate.

Don’t you just love New Year?!

Happy Holidays.

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The Scottish Question

Our household is “half Scottish”, but considers itself staunchly “British”, which means that we look upon the potential break up of the 307 year old Act of Union, with great sadness.

Whilst the Scots have every right to choose their own future, it’s not really clear how a potential vote for independence from the United Kingdom will effect either the Scots, or the rest of us.

Except, of course, that life will inevitably become more expensive. And I’ll have to remember to describe myself as “English”. And Hadrian’s Wall will presumably have to be re-built.

Surely, a compromise, rather than a messy divorce, is possible?

Let’s stick together.

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There … And Back Again

Well, Team DG are back in the UK. Much to the relief of the hotel which we’ve just left behind in fun, fab Mexico.

Everyday we presented a new challenge …

… Could the Concierge please find our 6ft, yellow, inflatable bed, which disappeared off the balcony of our room on the seventh floor?

… Could the Concierge please locate a large chocolate and strawberry birthday cake, specially ordered and decorated for our daughter, which disappeared (partly eaten) in transit to our room, from one of the hotel’s restaurants?

… Could the Concierge please fix … Toilet, broken shower, broken balcony door?

The list just went on.

Could the Concierge please arrange a late check out?

(Phone call to manager ….. “It’s the Eeeenglish”)


Actually, the hotel was lovely, the staff friendly and we genuinely had a great time.

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Horse Riding and Dystonia. Progress Report 27

Progress Report 27. Hmm. Progress? Perhaps not quite the right word. As the weather’s been so good, I’ve spent a lot of time out hacking, mainly due to extreme nagging from the Offspring who likes going in the school as much as a dose of homework.

However, a parental edict has been issued to the effect that “this has got to stop and we need to get back to doing proper 20m circles with the boards up, rather than 30m eggs in a field”. The Offspring’s response to this was to show me a disappearing back, horse’s bum and four clean hooves as she motored off into the distance. Guess I’m doing that on my own, then.

All is not lost though. It is still possible to do schooling exercises out hacking. Someone has started putting up fence posts in one of the fields we use – a good long stretch of them, all nicely spaced. And they’ve proved quite useful for doing different ‘bending exercises’ in different gaits. It is handy to have markers. Hence the point about circle sizes. I’ve found it very difficult to judge a 20m space in a flat, 10 acre field, so I’ve tried to think about the angle of bend, rather than guess the size of the space.

With September fast approaching, it’s time to get another competion entry planned. Life events have intervened in recent weeks, but it’s never too late to get back on track.

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